Q&A with Efi Binder, Futura Genetics CEO
What does futura genetics do?
Binder: We make people live longer. We do it by using the power of genetic testing in order to create a personalized preventive care program tailored for each individual’s needs.
Futura Genetics has been active for a few years in the direct-to-consumer genomics industry. Last year, we started working on the Futura Life intuitive, which is going to be our main and only focus in the years to come.
Futura Life is a disruptive digital health platform based on genetic data, aimed at the use of life insurance clients.
Our goal is simple – Make people live longer. We are doing it by using precision medicine techniques (DNA testing, self-reporting, big data analysis, and more) combined with a top-notch user experience to make sure clients are proactive about their health.
Clients using our platform are far more compliant with healthcare recommendations and are more likely to diagnose serious diseases at an early stage.
What co-operation are you building with insurance companies?
Binder: We are putting back the “life” in life insurance.
Instead of offering death-insurance that pays on premature death, we offer insurance companies a way to actually take care of their clients’ lives.
We are about to launch a 4,000 people pilot with one of Israel’s largest companies.
The customers on the pilot will receive our entire service for free. That means genetic testing, genetic counselor consultation, monitoring service, notification service, cashback, discounts and so much more.
How does this help an insurance company?
Binder: While we make sure life insurance clients live longer, insurance companies keep enjoying premiums collected and having to pay fewer compensations as the life expectancy of their clientele increases. Most significantly, we help early detect deadly illness at a relatively young age, thus increasing the survival rate of clients/patients and delaying or completely avoiding the compensation insurance companies have to pay.
With Futura Life, insurers will have a long-lasting and ongoing relationship with the customer.
Helping them access personalized medicine and increase their life expectancy.
We harness the power of big data, behavioral economics, and genetics into our AI in order to maximize the human potential for longevity, thus increasing retention and decreasing claims.
Do you have an estimated ROI?
Binder: According to the actuarial model that was built by Prof. Rami Yosef there is a 20:1 return on the money in a period of 5-10 years. We have developed a sophisticated system to measure the savings in a period of one year with great accuracy.
Are you planning to expand to health insurance or focus only on life insurance?
Binder: For now, our focus is to put back the “life” into life insurance. Naturally, our service goes well with health insurance and I am sure in the future such services will be included in health insurance.
How does the process work from the insured’s point of view?
Binder: Life insurance customers will get a special offer that will allow them to log in to our service for free. After a short sign up, a DNA testing kit will be sent to their homes.
The customer gives a simple saliva sample at home. With the prepaid envelope attached all the customer needs to do is to drop off the sample at the nearest post office (or another logistic partner, depending on the country the service is provided).
The saliva sample goes out to our CLIA certified laboratory to be analyzed. After 2-3 weeks, the process is complete and the results are ready. At this point, an invitation to schedule a call with a genetic counselor will be sent. Only after a 15 minutes call with our genetic counselor will the results be opened for viewing. The goal is to get customers to understand the results, put thighs into the right perspective and help drive recommended health changes.
The platform shows the customers only the top 3 things that they should take care of their health. Risks are shown in a stoplight system indicating what is best to focus on. The platform generates personalized and tailored “action items” for each individual. Completing these “action items” will reduce the likelihood of getting ill or will help early diagnose a serious illness.
We don’t ask people to stop smoking or start working out 5 times a week. These are tough changes to make, so we definitely recommend doing it when needed, but our model is not built on that type of change. Instead, we motivate customers to perform very simple, one time tasks with a lot of impact on one’s health. For example, taking a blood sugar test or visiting a cardiologist for the first time. Improving compliance, increasing screening rates, and empowering people to take care of their health is our goal.
Customers will receive an ongoing monitoring and notification service to help them achieve their health goals. We plan to update and add analytics constantly in all wellness domains.
How do you motivate them to complete the missions you gave them?
- Personalized experience – No more one size fits all. No more general health recommendations. Instead, Personalised and tailored health plans are based on genetics and the present condition of the person. Studies have shown that people are far more likely to take action based on actual personalized data rather than a general recommendation to the public.
- Health professionals – Having a medical professional presenting the results increases compliance and motivates action.
- Cashbacks – For the compilation of some action, users will get gift certificates or actual cash.
- Gamification – The entire UX is built around fun. The more you interact with the platform the higher score you get. You can also get badges and other elements that reinforce a positive feedback loop.
- Premium discounts – We created a participant score that does not depend at all on the genetic test result. The score indicates how well the customer is performing his action items. Higher scores mean that the user is taking care of his health the best he can. This will make him eligible for discounts.
- Notifications – According to the user settings we will notify users of upcoming checkups and certain procedures.
Doesn’t this cause regulation issues? Is it allowed for an insurer to use genetic Information?
Binder: It is not allowed for insurers to use or even receive genetic information.
Futura Genetics is the regulatory firewall protecting the insurance company from handling such data. We are 100% compliant with regulations including GDPR, HIPAA.
Privacy is one of our main focuses and a state of mind.
We do not want our own private data to reach the wrong place and we act the same with our clients’ personal data. All data is encrypted and safeguarded with the highest security protocols.
What investments were made in the company so far? What is planned next?
Binder: We have been bootstrapped the past year. Today, we are in the mindset of a two million dollar seed round. We will choose partners that can leverage us in the insurance industry and/or in the US market.
Tell me about your professional background and about other key figures in the company.
Binder: I have a B.A in economics and an MBA both from the Hebrew University.
Started my professional career at the Budget Division, Ministry of Finance, and later moved to Rotem Strategy (bought by KPMG), a management consulting firm. Through my work at management consulting, I discovered innovation and biotech. Following a market research on genomics, I decided to leave management consulting and start innovating in that field.
I founded my first direct-to-consumer genomics company and I have been involved in biotech ever since.
My Co-Founder and COO, Ram Warsha, is an Israeli CPA, an IDC, and EY alumni and brings a rich strategic, business, financial and legal background as the CFO of several medical and technological global SaaS companies.
Ram and I know each other from our military service in the IAF. We were a powerful team well before we were a business team.
Futura genetics backed by top industry leaders from different fields:
- Prof. Oded Sarig – World-renowned lecturer in finance and formerly head of the capital and insurance market at the Ministry of Finance. Prof. Oded Sarig was also the former chairman of the Migdal insurance group in Israel.
- Prof. Rami Yosef – Dean of the Faculty of Business at Ben Gurion University. Over 30 years experience as an actuary in the insurance industry and academia.
- Prof. Dani Berkovich – A leading geneticist and researcher in his field and the chief scientist at the GGA genetic lab. Also a faculty member at Tel-Hai College.
- Prof. and Adv. Yoram Plotsky – A leading geneticist and researcher in his field and a lawyer specializing in law and genetics. Co-founder and CEO of the GGA genetic lab.
- Dr. Guy Rosner – Geneticist and gastroenterologist from Ichilov Hospital and senior lecturer in the faculty for medicine at Tel Aviv University.